Destination marketers have long depended on data to target
potential visitors, but they now have a heightened need for information as they
seek to tap into the global travel recovery. Data companies are coming up with ways to enhance
their data reporting to helping destination marketing organizations achieve
DMOs have access to more data sources and more granular detail
than they’ve ever had before, which is “a blessing and a challenge,” says Zeek
Coleman, vice president for the Americas at Tourism Economics.
“By integrating data sources in a single data warehouse with
efficient processing and reporting, DMOs can achieve incredible things on both
the advocacy and strategy fronts,” he says.
Tourism Economics’ clients are combining mobile geolocation
data, industry performance, sales data, forecasts and marketing key performance
indicators (KPIs). These indicators paint a picture of visitor behavior and DMO
effectiveness and help them “maximize the ROI [return on investment] of everyday
decisions,” explains Coleman.
The Tourism Economics Symphony platform, which launched nearly
three years ago, integrates all Tourism Economics data with internal DMO data,
vendor intelligence, partner data and government data “within a single data
warehouse for efficient processing and easy reporting to partners,” according to
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“This year, we added half a dozen new data partners to
Symphony, and we have some exciting new partnerships in the wings for 2023 that
will provide more insights on traveler intentions, visitor spending and
destination competitive sets,” he says.
Peter Cranis, executive director at the Space Coast Office
of Tourism in Florida, says: “All through the pandemic and now it has been critically
important to have as much information as possible to make business decisions
and have an understanding of the marketplace.”
Cranis’ office relies on at least eight data services “to measure and track performance, as well as to make marketing
“We certainly are paying attention to national and
international data, but ultimately it is local data regarding the tourism
business that we are most interested in,” he says. “Forecasts for our county
have continued to show positive results for tourism.”
For 2023, the Space Coast Office of Tourism is “looking at
contracting some specific primary research to understand specific market
segments such as cruise passengers, business travelers and international
travelers,” Cranis adds.
Sojern launched a “self-service dashboard” about a month ago, and it is currently helping clients understand how to use it, says Richard Black, the company’s
vice president of destinations.
The dashboard shows, for example, when people are looking to come to a destination and whether they are just searching or also interested in booking.
“We’re adding additional information to it all the time, because it’s something where we’re trying to get as much client feedback as we
possibly can, because we want to continually iterate on this,” Black says.
Sojern helps DMOs look beyond visitors’ demographics
and location to the kind of trip they want to take. For example, if Panama
City, Florida gets lots of visitors from Atlanta, Panama City’s DMO can home in on people in Atlanta who “are showing specific intent to come to the Panhandle or
come to a Florida destination,” Black explains.
You’re aligning the right message to the right person in the right moment.
Richard Black - Sojern
By putting an ad in front of someone who is not considering a
beach vacation, Black says, “you’re wasting time, money, effort and energy.”
“And that’s where we make the difference,” he says. “A marketer’s
role is … all about, ‘How do I reach people in the moments that matter?’ Data
allows you a shortcut in being able to do that.”
Sojern has roughly 100 data partners globally, including airlines,
hoteliers, OTAs and metasearch sites. Black says the company collects billions of data intent signals on a
regular basis, determines where
somebody is within that path to purchase, then asks, “Who do we want to send a message to, and what message should be
sent to them?”
Once someone has a trip confirmed – through a hotel reservation
or plane ticket purchase – that’s when Sojern starts to serve its attraction
partners “in a really big way.”
“Broadway is a great example that not only do we know that
people are confirmed to travel to New York City, we know when they’re going to
be there,” Black says.
And Bermuda, for example, began marketing to New York City residents
who were spending three to five hours trying to get to the Hamptons by car.
“You could literally be in Bermuda in the same time it took
sitting in a car trying to get out to the Hamptons,” Black says. “So people are
using data in a really unique way and to their advantage.
Sojern is also building out “data consortiums” that marry Sojern data with destinations’ data.
For example, Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, sports
venues, hotels and other attractions could share their data, such as a database
of people who’ve made a booking in the past year or who are loyalty members.
But competitors, such as two hoteliers that are across town from
each other, likely will not want to share their data with each another. “So we
block that off. We gate that,” says Black.
In 2020, Google unveiled
Travel Insights with Google, which includes Destination Insights for travel businesses,
governments and tourism boards and expanded
it into the United States in 2021.
“We launched Destination Insights because the pandemic’s
impact on travel made it difficult for destinations to rely on historical data,
and we believe this tool continues to be relevant as conditions evolve,” says Gianni
Marostica, managing director of travel partnerships at Google.
says that Destination Insights helps destinations answer questions such as:
have searches for flights or accommodations related to my destination changed
are the top and trending sources of demand based on geography?
do a specific set of countries compare in terms of demand for visiting my
“Using this information,
destination marketers can make better decisions about where and when to deploy
their resources,” says Marostica. “For example, they might decide that their
campaigns should be focused on reaching travelers in specific countries or
regions, or during specific times of year.”
“At the aggregate,
anonymized level, [people’s] search patterns can provide an invaluable tool for
DMOs and tourism boards,” adds
The company announced in
September that Google Search will be evolving to show more visual and engaging
content for a number of topics, including city or destination queries. For
example, people may see visual stories and short videos from people who have
visited, tips on how to explore the city, things to do and how to get there, according
to the company.